Coping, caring and believing: the embodied work of disaster recovery workers

Authors: Christine Eriksen*, University of Wollongong
Topics: Cultural Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: disaster, care, faith, coping capacity, Australia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper focuses on the affective and embodied experiences of care and self-care narrated by disaster recovery workers in Australia. By critically examining coping mechanisms and narratives of belief and doubt in self, others, nature and the supernatural, two different types of faith are revealed that enable recovery workers to adapt to and cope with disasters. Faith can be founded on or driven by group-identity that provides interaction, common purpose, relational support and collective strength to cope with adversity. Alternatively, faith can be something individual that is connected to a geographical place, (personal) philosophy, or religion, which provide clarity and inner strength that assist crisis response. Both result in spiritual and, often but not always, physical safe spaces – sacred spaces in both a secular and religious sense. These types of faith and safe spaces provide anchor points and purpose that foster compassion and care towards self and others. They also accentuate the individual and collective choices we face in terms of mitigating and adapting to changing natural and political climates.

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